Speeding a product to market is all well and good, but what if your sales people aren't ready to sell it? Eloquent, maker of CRM-related software, believes it can solve this problem with its LaunchForce product announced this week.
Publicly-held Eloquent had been peddling a general-purpose, rich media platform, enabling companies to conduct streaming Web videos. Like other software vendors that have repositioned themselves, the 70-employee firm came to realize it could find more traction as a sales-optimization company, with rich media as a part of its Web-based platform.
LaunchForce promises to help companies ready salespeople on new products, train new salespeople, and inform existing salespeople on changes in product positioning. Here's how it works: A control center module enables the marketing group to create product and sales information such as spreadsheets, live media presentations, HTML pages, tests and events. Salespeople and channel partners can access up-to-date sales and product information, as well as training documents, through the information center module. At the same time, a tracking center module keeps management in the loop -- that is, the software tracks whether or not certain salespeople have downloaded appropriate documents and are meeting "sales readiness" target dates. LaunchForce starts at around $150 per seat.
The end-goal, of course, is to take full advantage of a product's lifecycle. Eloquent boasts an impressive customer list made up primarily of high-tech Fortune 500 companies, including 3Com, British Telecommunications and Compaq Computer. "Most of our customers have sales forces of more than 1,000 people and products with short lifecycles, around 18 months," says David Glazer, founder and chief technology officer at Eloquent. "In general, our customers are cutting two to six months off their ramp-up time of new products... and that means more months of selling."
Already British Telecommunications is singing Eloquent's praises. "Through the use of LaunchForce, our sales teams, customers and distributors gain product knowledge sooner, our sales cycle is shorter and our travel, production and support costs are significantly lower," said Dorothy Boyer, senior manager of the eLearning program at British Telecommunications, in a statement. "Early deployments using LaunchForce have already shortened our time-to-market by two months, yielding millions of dollars in cost savings."
Joe Galvin, vice president and research director of the CRM practice at Gartner Research, says there are some practical applications offered by Eloquent, although he's not too familiar with the company and its new product. That said, communication and dissemination via a Web channel can prove valuable in optimizing sales -- a very compelling proposition in today's uncertain economy, he says.
"Sales departments are under tremendous pressure to attain goals set in earlier and more prosperous times," Galvin says. "Sales and marketing organizations that invest in technology-enabled selling tools will now press that advantage and realize competitive superiority over those enterprises that are unsuccessful or unwilling to embrace technology."
Tom Kaneshige also writes for line56.com